How to Write an Effective Executive Summary
Many people have a tendency to either neglect the importance of an effective executive summary OR just summarize what’s already in the rest of the proposal. Both of these strategies are sure to set your proposal down the wrong path right out of the gate. The executive summary should really focus on three key points:
- The customer’s hot button issues
- The customer’s vision
- Your solution to solve their issues and support their vision
Now that we understand what to write, we should take a look at how to write it. Remember, this proposal is about the customer, not you. The customer should always come first and any mention of yourself (your company) should always come second.
Addressing the Hot Button Issues
You were most likely give the opportunity to submit a proposal because the customer has key issues that need to be addressed and solved by your solution. Address each issue as it was presented to you, don’t address the issue you solve best first, the proposal is about the customer not how great you think you are at solving the one issue you handle especially well.
The Customer’s Vision
The customer’s issues and the customer’s vision are two separate topics and need to be addressed as such. Many times the vision has nothing to do with the company’s issues they are currently trying to solve. It can be their long term goals and growth strategies, their push into a new market or product line or simply where they see themselves in five years. Make sure your solution is in line with their vision and understand how you can help them get there.
Here is where you can start talking about yourself, but only a little bit. Remember the customer, more often than not, cares about your solution, not your company or your history. Be sure to focus on how you can help them solve their issues and move towards their vision. One specific point to remember that many of us already know but always needs to be kept in the front of your mind, is to focus on benefits, not features. Benefits are just that, benefits the customer will see by trusting your solution. Features tell what it does but not how it helps, which is a key distinction.
Remember your executive summary sets the tone for your entire proposal, so give your executive summary the time and dedication it deserves. We all know the old saying, “First impressions are hard to change.”
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